Abramovich Reportedly Hires Adviser to Sell Chelsea Soccer Club

Abramovich became an Israeli citizen in May, overnight becoming Israel's richest man

 In this file photo dated Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich sits in his box before the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge stadium in London
AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File

Russian billionaire, and newly minted Israeli citizen, Roman Abramovich has hired an investment bank to consider the sale of his English Premier League soccer team Chelsea, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

A source at the club denied Abramovich planned any sale.

The Sunday Times said the move by the Russian followed his rejection of an offer to buy a minority stake in the club by U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

Chelsea's directors have brought in Joe Ravitch from the Raine Group, a bank that specialises in sport and technology, the newspaper said without citing its sources.

The source at Chelsea, who declined to be identified, said: "The club is not for sale. The owner is not thinking of selling the club."

Separately, a spokesman for Abramovich in Moscow declined to comment on "market speculation."

Raine Group did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Earlier this year Jim Ratcliffe, owner of chemicals giant Ineos, bid 2 billion pounds ($2.55 billion) to buy the club, which Abramovich also turned down, the Daily Mail reported.

Tensions between Britain and Russia grew this year after London accused Moscow of poisoning former double-agent Sergei Skripal in Britain in March. Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning but wealthy Russians have been affected by the frosty relations between the two countries.

Abramovich ran into problems renewing his British visa earlier this year, which caused him to miss Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Manchester United in May. Abramovich subsequently became an Israeli citizen in May, overnight becoming Israel's richest man. As an Israeli citizen Abramovich is no longer able to apply for the entrepenuer visa he previously had and is banned from working while in the United Kingdom.

Shortly afterwards, Chelsea said work on a new stadium in London would be suspended indefinitely, citing an unfavourable investment climate.